4.12.2010

Ain't that yogurt dandy

Philip Levitas wants to grow a new culture downtown - yogurt culture, that is.

The 38-year-old Rockland County man moved to Ballston Spa recently along with his folks, Lawrence and Diane Levitas, looking to apply his service-industry and art school backgrounds to a local venture.

The family will run Plum Dandy at 419 Broadway, the space that housed the Italian café and gelato shop until its owner changed locations in January.

"I’ve been visiting Saratoga for years, and the area has really developed," Levitas said. "With our frozen yogurt concept, it seemed to fit.

The "concept" includes a self-serve frozen yogurt bar with healthy, sweet toppings - fresh fruit, granola, cookies, etc. - plus non-dairy sorbet and smoothies. Asian Bubble tea, a drink made of fresh-brewed tea, milk, flavoring and tapioca pearls that is served hot or cold, adds a twist to the menu.

"Plum Dandy is not a dessert destination only," Levitas said, noting that the yogurt is non-fat, low-calorie, certified pro-biotic and kosher. The idea is to appeal to health-conscious customers who might be looking for a cold meal on a hot summer day, and a laidback atmosphere in which to enjoy it, he said.

Renovations to the shop have been under way for a couple of months, and those familiar with the space when it housed Eugenio’s Café Gelato will find new indoor and outdoor seating and the addition of a public restroom that is handicap-accessible. Levitas said he’s maintaining the existing character of the space, with its brick walls and wooden floors, while brightening it up with modern décor.

Free wi-fi access and a mix of alternative and electronic tunes on a new stereo system will round out the shop’s chill vibe.

"It’s a gathering-place model like Uncommon Grounds or Starbucks, where we encourage people to stay in and enjoy themselves rather than just have a take-out product," Levitas said.

May 15 is the target opening date. The Web site, www.plumdandyyogurt.com, is under construction.

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